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White Power to the People: The Gentrification of Protests

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We all know that media framing of news events almost always privileges Whiteness. The privileging of Whiteness while simultaneously marginalizing other cultures is not a new concept. From the time of Black enslavement until the present day, the dominant pattern of White representation through media has been skewed to maintain the superiority and dominance of Whites. Historically, media tailored its content to White audiences, stressing the racial hierarchal structure of American culture, while ignoring or trivializing the experiences and history of people of color.

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Nowhere has this been more clear than in the recent coverage of the Florida student gun law protests. I want to be very clear that this is not a critique of the Florida students; I am so proud of their determination to effect some real change, and I am angry that these kids have been forced to become activists. All I cared about in high school was talking my parents into a new pair of sneakers and some Gap jeans to go with it. I admire the moxie of these kids.

And while I admire them, I would be remiss to ignore the stark difference in the way media cover the Florida teens’ protests as compared to the protest of the young people in Baltimore or Ferguson. The Florida students are framed on The NY Times, Washington Post, CNN and every other major media outlet (minus the ones tucked up Trump’s ass) as heroes. Their stories are written with empathy. Their protest is given legitimacy (as it should be). It is valued in a way that the protests of the Baltimore and Ferguson young people’s protests were not.

Perhaps it’s the cause. Police brutality is far more likely to affect people of color while a spree shooter’s bullet ain’t got no name on it. Perhaps it’s because these Florida students employed the tactics of our Civil Rights Movement faves marching for freedom; Oprah even compared them to the Freedom Riders of the 60s, whose social justice initiatives were also rooted in maintaining the respectability and docility of Black people. Black rage isn’t respectable.

When the Black kids in Baltimore, who have for generations, lived under the oppressive boot of the overtly corrupt police department (see Korryn Gaines family is awarded $37 million in damages or Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force found guilty of robbery and racketeering if you don’t believe me) rise up, well, the story goes a little differently.

I was born and raised in Baltimore, and I can attest to the corruption of officers since forever. The young people in Baltimore live in communities where police officers routinely harass them and their parents and their friends and their grandmothers and uncles and cousins for being in a Black community walking down the street; there is nothing they can do about it. Young women who are raped and sexually assaulted don’t bother reporting it because rape kits sit unopened and unexamined for years. As a Black person in Baltimore, you can have poverty, classrooms with no heat in freezing temperatures, low paying jobs, and segregated communities, but you can’t have justice or fair coverage on local media.

Perhaps it’s the cause. Police brutality is far more likely to affect people of color while a spree shooter’s bullet ain’t got no name on it. Click To Tweet

During the April 2015 uprising in Baltimore, the footage that dominated media were the burning CVS and the kids pummeling a car. The “riot” spanned a two-block radius, but the way the media covered it, you would think the entire city was burning. The media did not cover the events of the following day when young people all over the city went to the Westside community to clean up. They also did not cover the number of young people who became community advocates and activists as a result, working within the community to provide resources that are simply not available to them.

Perhaps the coverage is different because Baltimore’s young protestors are Black, and Florida’s protestors are mostly White (at least that’s how the media are covering it).

So, while I am happy that the Florida students have decided to join together, with the unwavering and very vocal support of Oprah, to elicit some change in this country around gun laws, it also feels bittersweet because I know the kids in Baltimore who were fighting just as hard as the kids in Florida won’t get the same empathy nor a $500,000 donation from Oprah Winfrey.

 

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For The Culture

In The Middle: Of A ‘Black Parade’

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12 Year-Old Keedron Bryant Signed to Warner Records

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“OOHHH THANK YA” is all Keedron Bryant had to say on social media when news finally came out that he had signed a record deal with Warner Records.

Amidst all the difficult news we’ve been facing these past few weeks, we wanted to give you something to smile about. You might remember Keedron Bryant, the 12-year-old boy who went viral after posting a video of himself singing “I Just Wanna Live,” a song written by his mother that tells of being Black in America and just wanting to live.

Keedron’s performance was noticed by everyone from former president Barack Obama, who referred to him and posted the performance in a statement on the murder of George Floyd, to comedian Ellen Degeneres, who closed her show with his full video. 

Just when we thought this story couldn’t give us any more feels, it was announced that Keedron was officially signed to Warner Records and his viral hit would be released on all platforms Friday, June 19, otherwise known as Juneteenth, a day marking the end of slavery in America. 

Congratulations are definitely in order for Keedron Bryant.

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Netflix CEO Donates $120 Million to HBCU’s

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Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, along with his wife, Patty Quillin, are donating $120 million dollars in total to Morehouse College, Spelman College, and the United Negro College Fund. The $120 million will go towards scholarships for the students. Each college will get $40 million.

According to the United Negro College Fund, this is the largest single donation by individuals.

In a statement Hastings and Quillin said, “We’ve supported these three extraordinary institutions for the last few years because we believe that investing in the education of black youth is one of the best ways to invest in America’s future.”

This isn’t Hastings’ and Quillin’s first time donating to HBCU’s and minority education. In 1997, the two began supporting the KIPP charter school network which helps black and latino students. In 2016, Hastings created a $100 million dollar education fund for black and latino scholarships.

“HBCUs have a tremendous record, yet are disadvantaged when it comes to giving. Generally, white capital flows to predominantly white institutions, perpetuating capital isolation. We hope this additional $120 million donation will help more black students follow their dreams and also encourage more people to support these institutions — helping to reverse generations of inequity in our country,” says Hastings and Quillin.

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